“Consensus building” is Wikipedia’s double-edged sword

I love Wikipedia precisely because it is open-source and espouses the belief that anyone should be able to contribute meaningfully to the world’s knowledge base. But evidently, the process behind Wikipedia that encourages valuable contributions is generating its own headwinds as its community of editors (read: consensus builders) struggles to determine what indicates a durable consensus. Authoritative sources, such as university professor Timothy Messer-Kruse [bio], and search engine expert, author and publisher Danny Sullivan [bio] are retreating from Wikipedia as they find it impossible at times to penetrate the editors bureaucracy.

Jon Udell writes:

There aren’t an infinite number of people in the world who have deep knowledge… [who] might or might not emerge as authoritative in the judgement of Wikipedia but also of the world. […] But if the consensus engine is willing to listen for a while to a chorus of voices, it may be able to recruit and retain more of the voices it needs.

For some illumination of the systemic problem at Wikipedia (and collaboration-oriented organizations in general), Jon’s article is a good place to start.


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